LAHORE - As the PPP remembered its slain leader Benazir Bhutto on her 8th death anniversary yesterday, its Punjab chapter’s allegiance to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, the resting place of Bhuttos, is becoming increasingly questionable over the years.

Much like the previous years, a few party jiayalas from Punjab attended the main ceremony, a dangerous sign from the biggest province whose cadres are gradually drifting away from the party nucleus.

There was time, not in the distant past, when PPP caravans would set off for Larkana from every nook and corner of Punjab on special occasions to pay homage to the Bhuttos. Though Punjab cadres had their representation in the yesterday’s event, the participation of party activists was negligible.

PPP’s Lahore chapter which has the status of a provincial organization responsible only to the main leadership did not generate much activity on the occasion of BB’s death anniversary. Much to the surprise of many, its President Samina Khalid Ghurki opted to stay away from the central ceremony.

Nonetheless, a few dozen party jiayals only from a one zone-PP-154, led by zonal President Dr. Zarrar Yusaf made it to the occasion. Party’s Lahore organization has been divided into 26 zones and only one of them had its active participation. This bunch of jiayalas from Lahore displayed a 100 ft long and 40 ft wide party flag at Bhutto’s mausoleum.

In a fragmented party structure devoid of leadership, no party man is inclined to spending money to take the poor party workers to the graves which still remain a source of inspiration for them.

Party men holding key positions in Punjab are worried about their future prospects. If Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo is removed as party’s central Punjab present, all the divisional and district heads would also lose their jobs. The new president will certainly bring in his own team to occupy the various slots.

The diehard party activists in Punjab, the backbone of the PPP, are no longer available to the present leadership. They may have a soft corner for young Bilawal, but their allegiance to his father, Asif Ali Zardari, is doubtful owing to latter’s tainted image. There are even question marks on the affiliation of first and second tier leadership.

The top party leadership which mainly comes from Sind seems to have failed to keep up Benazir Bhutto’s image of a binding force (charon sooboun ki zanjeer) of the four provinces. What should be a cause of concern for the leadership, the party of Bhuttos is swiftly turning into a regional party. A sense of being a federal party is now a thing of the past.

A party which ruled the country for four times is passing through its turbulent times. Old PPP guards who have been sidelined since the assassination of party’s charismatic leader Benazir Bhutto opted to remain dormant in the previous two elections.

What is more distressing for the sincere party men is the fact that there is even no urgency to set the things right. They moan that party leadership ignored party workers when it was in power from 2008 to 2013. Activists who had been supporting the party through thick and thin have numerous complaints against two former Prime Ministers - Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf - who would not bother to listen to their grievances. In the near past, PPP workers were also angry with the leadership for forging a political alliance with the PML-Q and placing them under the command of politicians who had a history of harming the party.